Tuesday, June 16, 2009
It surprised me when someone wheeled in the bodies. I might have run away, but the crib was between me and the door and someone was still holding my arm, but he was not holding me up anymore. So I held him up from my side. I saw then that there was someone holding him up from the other side. We leaned against each other quite literally, crying ourselves dry. We sat on plastic furniture and kept our arms around each other and poured out all the love we meant to give to two children who never got to see it.
Grief is grief is grief. I mean, that had to be what, nine years ago? And it's not like they were my kids. Turns out, they probably weren't even related to most of the people in the room. Ain't none of mine.
The only thing mine is my slice of that day. Which I'm keeping.
When I asked what I could do, she said she only wanted her mom. And I didn't understand. I got out of the way, but I didn't understand.
See, I'm all right until I run out of things to do. I can bring you socks. I can bring you flowers. I can hold your hand while the machine shows that there's a problem. I can hold you while you cry.
But when it's all over and there's nothing left to do but bleed and breathe, that's when I fall down a hole. Because those tasks have formed a catwalk over a yawning canyon of grief and sadness, and I can reach from making coffee to picking up the kids, and my foot will find laundry to do and pets to feed. Without that structure, that soothing mundane routine, I'm like Wile E. Coyote as he realizes he's just chased the Roadrunner off a cliff. Again.
Monday, June 15, 2009
I am still fascinated by the amount and variety of junk in this photo, which was taken as my sister and I walked to the lake to get some air and let my dad forget the argument we were just having about global warming.
Seriously. Global warming.
The gentleman behind my sister seemed distressed at having his photo taken. I found that very funny. Note my sister's defeated look. This is what happens when we visit our father.
This is my sister on the phone with my brother while Neitzsche, Emily's dog, pointedly stares at me, refusing to come over and sit with me, apparently preferring to be IGNORED by someone who is ON THE PHONE. Whatever. I'm not bitter.
This was taken later that night. The washing machine is my safe place, especially when there is wine involved. Shut up, YOU'RE weird.
This is the wooden lizard I found at the thrift store.
This is the more emphatic "no" piece.
I love phone photos.
- discovered I share a birthday with Pablo Picasso
- walked the dog past the Tulsa Fire Alarm Building, which now houses the local office of the American Lung Association and is one of my favorite buildings. See?
- finished Lesson 2 in my Catholic correspondence course from the Knights of Columbus
- discovered "fetch" in all its awesomeness
- hiked at the Keystone Ancient Forest
- agreed to become a volunteer trail guide at the Keystone Ancient Forest
- accidentally shattered the glass globe covering my bedroom light fixture
- successfully distracted the dog long enough to get the mess cleaned up so nobody bled to death
- decided that my plan to roadtrip between places to hike and camp is the best vacation plan ever
- took advantage of Philbrook's free day and nerded out with the audio tour
- stood in front of the mural of Philmont in the Santa Fe room and cried like a wuss
Today, I mailed my entry fee and form for the Bixby Green Corn 5k. My goal for this 5k is to finish in 30 minutes or less. Like ordering a pizza. Or something.
Today, I had a good run with the dog through my neighborhood.
Today, I sang along to Billie Holiday songs in the car on the way to work.
Today, I am telling myself that I can immerse myself in work for a while, but I must keep a balance. So far, so good.
Today, I am trying to accept the term "heartsick." Because I think it applies. Also, it has some hope in it, you know? The chance of getting better? I sure hope there's a chance, anyway.
Heartsick is better than homesick. Because I do have a heart, you know.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Except that it's not. I can drive. I am licensed and adequately skilled. I have just chosen not to drive.
Emily is going to France for a couple of weeks and leaving her car (and her dog) with me.
It's going to be the first time I've had a vehicle at my disposal in years.
I am unable to convey how very huge this is. Or how huge my gratitude is. Neitzsche will be one very spoiled puppy. We might run a different local trail every day. It's the least I can do. And it's a very big deal to me.
But it's part of a larger piece.
I've been working, slowly and patiently, to reach financial independence. We're not going to talk about money here, but I've been working my ass off and exercising fairly strict self-discipline and budgeting. I am finally starting to see, not exactly an end, but the glimmer that says there is a light at the end of this tunnel.
A glimmer is a good thing.
My car should be road-ready very soon. How soon, I'm not exactly sure. The work she needs will cost money, which will take time, which means I have to be patient -- is anybody else thinking about George Harrison right now? He's my favorite Beatle. I also admire the hell out of his wife. But I'm off track.
I've always been good at jumping the gun, so today I found myself mapping a road trip.
A big road trip.
A park-to-park camping road trip. National and state parks, I mean.
Because it's me.
Because I like camping and hiking.
Because I have never driven my own car for fun.
Because she deserves to be driven.
Because I could use some concentrated alone time, and I could use a little adventure.
Because it's about time.
I haven't decided where to go, but I'm really thinking Northwest. I'm thinking of going places I've never been but always meant to visit. Yellowstone. Pike's Peak. Grand Teton. Crater Lake. Dinosaur National Monument. Day hikes, not crazywild backcountry expeditions. I think. I don't know. I'm still planning.
I could still head Northeast, as well. But that's a whole other long list of places. And I do think of myself as a Westerner. I don't know how far outside my comfort zone I am willing to travel.
Like I said, still planning.
Monday, June 08, 2009
I wasn't planning to run. I thought I'd be exhausted. I spent an hour writing a letter, junior-high style, the kind of letter you never send. The kind of letter you burn on the barbecue grill.
The kind of letter I used to send, because I have not always had a very strong self-preservation instinct.
The kind of letter that tells a person exactly how they hurt you, exactly where they let you down.
And I found that I was angry. I shouldn't have been surprised.
By the time we left that smoke-filled cabin, he was too drunk to stand up to hug us goodbye. He'd been standing when we arrived, hugged us hello. But we had stayed too long. I had argued too much. We waved as we left, but I paused in the doorway and said, slowly and clearly, "I love you, Dad."
He blinked at me and it looked like he was waiting for the room to settle into place. I took that as acknowledgment and I shut the door behind me.
I wrote out my favorite grievances because when I realized how dangerously close I was to begging for comfort, I knew I needed to be angry for a while. I forget sometimes why I can't be comforted. I forget sometimes that reality is my only choice, and reality means being alone.
So I wrote a letter and wound myself up until I was angry enough to stop crying and the anger propelled me up out of the chair, down the street and through the neighborhood. I ran until I thought I might throw up. Then I ran a little longer.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
I took Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation with me, but I barely opened it. See, the very first time I opened this book, Thomas Merton kicked my ass.
So I've carried it with me ever since, but mostly I'm too scared to open it.
That first day, waiting at the bus stop, I cracked the book open and let chance decide where I should start reading.
The book opened to Chapter 10, "A Body of Broken Bones." I knew I was in trouble. But I am nothing if not determined.
I am not so terribly brave.
I am not so terribly strong.
But I am terribly, terribly stubborn. When I am being kind, I call it "determined." (Or even, sometimes, in heady moments obtained mostly from running farther than I thought I could, faster than I hoped I might, I even call it "tenacious.")
Since I had agreed with myself that I would read the first thing chance offered me, I acknowledged the synchronicity of the chapter title, took a deep breath and started reading, slowly.
Thomas Merton knew stuff. I think I sort of expected to read thick, esoteric poetry. I expected the God-talk to overwhelm and capsize the story. I expected to read enough to determine that the whole thing, the soul thing, the God thing, it's just not for me. Like avocadoes. No offense, just not my thing. I did not expect to relate. I did not expect Thomas Merton to have anything to say to me.
But he started with the bones and fanned out love, forgiveness, suffering, unworthiness, isolation, hatred, the evil within men, death, back to love, unity and peace.
Ten or so pages later, the chapter closed with, "That is why it is dangerous to go into solitude merely because you like to be alone."
And I drew a shaky breath and closed the book and blinked and looked around. Exhausted.
I underestimated Mr. Merton. I am glad.